Will Libya help Obama in 2012?

With rebels on the brink of ousting Libya's longtime despot, the war that dogged Obama for months might actually turn into a plus come election time

President Obama interrupts his vacation Monday to make a statement on Libya: Many commentators believe the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi could be a political and economic win for the president.
(Image credit: Pool/Getty Images)

President Obama faced a lot of criticism, from both the Left and the Right, over his decision this spring to help spearhead NATO's military campaign in Libya. Now that the NATO-backed rebel army appears to be on the cusp of ending the 42-year reign of Moammar Gadhafi, critics are struggling to applaud the outcome without cheering the president or his strategy of "leading from behind." Will this foreign policy victory help Obama convince voters that he deserves a second term?

Yes. Obama wins and his GOP rivals lose: Defeating a U.S. enemy who "outlasted Reagan and both Bushes," and with zero U.S. casualties, is not just a boost for Obama, says Tom Levenson at Balloon Juice. It's also an embarrassment for his 2012 GOP rivals. After their incoherent and incorrect criticisms of Obama's strategy, it's clear that if you care about "a robust and effective foreign policy, there is not a single clown seeking your vote on the GOP side who would seem to merit your trust."

"Send in the clowns"

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Voters care about their jobs, not Gadhafi's: Americans tell pollsters that their overwhelming concern is the economy, while the fighting in Libya barely registers, says Alan Silverleib at CNN. "Translation: Who's up or who's down in Tripoli may not matter to someone who can't find a job in Dayton, Ohio." And while Obama may get a temporary boost — just like he did after the killing of Osama bin Laden — the president will also likely take a hit in the polls if things fall apart in post-Gadhafi Libya.

"Libya: Is Gadhafi's loss Obama's gain?"

But Libya is an economic win for Obama, too: If voters ignore the "constitutional gymnastics" Obama used to avoid a congressional vote on the war, says Dan Schnur at Politico, ousting Gadhafi will be "a tremendous military and political victory." Voters don't care much about Libya, but they will care that the rebels' victory is bringing down oil prices. And "lower costs at the pump next spring and summer can't help but to help an incumbent president who could use some positive economic news."

"President Obama vindicated on Libya?"

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